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Adjusting to Kenya

Adjusting to Kenya was harder for me than I first expected. The adjustment to everything; the culture, the people, the language, was difficult, but also the seperation from everything familiar. It's not that I didn't want to be here, I did, but it was still hard.

When Dad first told us about his idea to move to Kenya, all of us kids were on board immediately. I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting when I said I wanted to go. I guess I was thinking more on the lines of adventure, new places, travelling, and excitement. I wasn't thinking at all about the negative aspects of it. I didn't think at all of the sacrifices that moving to a third world country would entail. About a week before we left though, I began to realize a little more what was going to happen to us. We were leaving our brothers behind. We were leaving our family behind. We were leaving everything familiar behind.

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Reed and I packed and ready to go.

Still, I was caught up in the excitement of it and didn't allow myself to dwell on it too much. We were too busy anyway with packing everything we needed, selling everything we didn't, and getting all of the other stuff ready. Even when we were on the plane I didn't fully comprehend what we had done. When we landed we were busy looking at our new surroundings, getting settled in, and meeting the people.

I didn't realize until maybe two weeks later. Suddenly, I missed my brothers so much, but in different ways. Cory had already moved out, so we didn't see him as often before. I still missed him, but it didn't affect me as much. Quinn had already been gone as well, but we saw him more and we were closer to him, so I felt it more.

Kyle was different. I always felt closer to him than I did the rest so leaving him behind hit me hard. I'm sure the other kids missed him too, but it was different for me. Because of our circumstances, we understood each other better than the rest did. We had gone through the same problems together. I tried to help him all I could, I would defend him whenever I thought it was necessary, and, in a way, I felt responsible for him even though he was nearly two years older than me.

After I cried a few times, I thought I had moved on and accepted the fact that they were in America and we were in Kenya, but I guess I didn't. As time went on, I began to slowly feel angry that we had moved. I was angry that everything had changed. I was angry about the food. I was angry about the people being so different from us. I was angry that our family didn't spend as much time together.

Our family picture from 2015.

Our family picture from 2015.

Soon those feelings turned to guilt. What Christian thought that way? What Christian felt the feelings that I was having? Was I a Christian then? Because I felt so guilty for having these feelings when everyone else seemed to be doing fine, I didn't want to share them with anybody. Because I held it all in, I journaled a lot. Looking back on those entries, I sounded pitiful! They're full of complaints to God asking Him why I felt so alone. Why didn't I feel happy anymore? Why did I feel discontented?

It got so bad that I found it was difficult for me to read the Bible or even pray. I thought I wanted to do those things, but when it came down to it, I couldn't. I couldn't focus on what I was reading. I would start in 1 Corinthians and by the time I came to verse 5 of the first chapter, I was already completely distracted and would just quit. When I tried to pray, I would get to Dear Lord, then wouldn't be able to say anything after that. It felt as though He wasn't listening to me, but I am sure it was all me. I wasn't really trying then. I am not sure why I felt that way. Maybe I was trying to ignore the problem or maybe I was disappointed in God for leaving me. I didn't want to face the fact that if anyone was being disappointing, it was me.

I realized that I was holding onto the past. I kept looking back wishing that I could live in those times again. I kept thinking about how I missed family trips to the zoo, or going to the store with Mom, or going thrift store shopping, or eating at Jason's Deli. I missed family outings together. I missed good food. I missed American convenience. I wasn't thinking about our lives in the here and now and all the new memories to be made. I wasn't allowing change.

I was also still thinking about my brothers. I missed them, I worried about them, and I still wanted to help them, mainly Kyle. I still felt responsible for him and wanted to keep him from making mistakes as I tried to do when we were younger. I didn't want to let go.

One day it hit me. I couldn't help him. (I'm sure you're thinking, duh!) I couldn't help any of them. My worrying and my holding on wasn't doing anyone any good. They weren't being helped at all and it was only hurting me. Another big moment was when I realized: God didn't need me. God didn't need my help to protect and watch over my brothers. God didn't need me to keep them from making mistakes. God can do all of that just fine on His own. He has His own plan and if I'm a part of that, then great, but if not, He knows best. I had to let go.

After I realized this, I got better slowly. I began praying more (I was able to get past Dear Lord then!). I began reading the Bible every day. Of course, I'm still learning. I find myself still worrying. I guess I always will because I love my brothers and I suppose that's just part of it, but I try not to obsess as I did before. But trusting God to care, watch over, and protect them helps a lot. It also helped me to accept our lives here more.

I've come to understand that, no matter how much I miss our old lives in America, I wouldn't change our lives here. I wouldn't give up hearing Robai read for the first time. I wouldn't give up seeing two year old Joy first begin walking. I wouldn't give up seeing Griffin, who had jiggers so bad he could barely walk, run and play football. I wouldn't give up seeing Sylivia, who when she first came was so weak she had to lean on someone to walk, play Chako (similar to jump rope) with the other girls. I wouldn't give up seeing the kids at Mercy Christian Academy walk proudly through the gate in their new uniforms. This life here may be hard, frustrating, and difficult sometimes, but I still love it.

I am still learning and adjusting even after nearly three years of living here. I still miss some of our life back in America. I still miss Kyle, Cory, and Quinn. I still don't understand everything about Kenya. I still don't even know Swahili that well! But I have learned to love a lot about this place and wouldn't change living here.

The whole Mercy Home family during Cory and Rachel's visit in June 2019.

The whole Mercy Home family during Cory and Rachel's visit in June 2019.

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Celebrating Birthdays at Mercy Home - This Week, Rogers

What a great smile!

What a great smile!

Rogers turned 7 years-old this past Tuesday. It is pretty rare to have a birthday week all to yourself at Mercy Home, but Rogers does!

Rogers lives here at Mercy Home with his 5 older siblings. He loves to play banda (marbles) and he also enjoys digging in the dirt and mud. He likes to eat rice and beans, and his favorite Mercy Home brothers to play with are Bravin, Zekieli, Reed, Andrew, and Fadili.

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The hardest parts of Missions

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The hardest parts of Missions

I once thought that when on the ground in Kenya, I thought the hardest part of missions (besides leaving our family) was not having air-conditioning, or maybe the lack of tacos, or even the fact that we didn't have ice, or iced coffee. The first few weeks here I would have said the hardest part of missions were those

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Food That Lasts

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For the last 14 months, I have been preaching through John’s Gospel verse by verse at Mercy Baptist Church in our little village of Kaya. Today’s text was John 6:22-29.

22 On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”


As is usually the case, there is more in the text that could be said than I have time to say. Especially when a sermon is being preached in two languages, it can easily go long. We have a feeding program for the benefit of the kids in our village after service every Sunday, so I try not to run more than 15-20 minutes over.

Today I wished I had more time to expound on a point. In this passage, we are told about a crowd that went looking for Jesus. The day before, he had miraculously multiplied fish and bread and fed 5,000 men along with many women and children who would also have been there. An incredible miracle for sure! And in verses 22-25 we see the crowd suspected something else miraculous had taken place. But as we see in the answer Jesus gives them in verse 26, they missed the point of His miracles. All materialistic notions miss the point. They longed for what Jesus could give them and not Jesus Himself.

Many of the beautiful people of Kenya are faced with extreme poverty. This is a problem we often hear about from afar in the US, but very few see first-hand. In the US there are many government programs to assist those who are poor. I have worked with homeless in Dallas. Poverty in Kenya looks much different. There is very little structure to support the poor here. We know a single mother living near us who is raising four children. She could not send them to school because she couldn’t even manage to pay the $10/year or so for their fees and uniforms. They live in a one-room shack with mud walls and a dirt floor and had no furniture. The mother would leave the children all day and even late into the evenings looking for odd-jobs, mostly digging weeds from farmers’ fields for $1-3 per day. Her 9 year-old daughter had to look after her 3 younger siblings all day every day, including the youngest, a baby not even yet 1 year old. There are no government programs helping her. No safety-net keeping things from getting really bad. We come across stories like hers nearly every day. Kenya is ranked 8th in the world for number of people living in extreme poverty. You would think that such a people would yearn to hear of food that lasts. You would think that Kenya would be a nation burning to know the Bread of Life.

Yet sadly, in Kenya, just like in the US and many other places around the world, the Church is faced with a big problem. There are many who “believe” in Jesus, but only because of the material “blessings” they think he will give them. They are not born again, as Jesus told Nicodemus in an earlier chapter must happen in order to enter the kingdom of God. They are religious, but they are not children of God. Jesus warns us about such in Matthew 7:21-23:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Here Jesus describes, not people who are espousing atheist philosophy and beliefs, or people who are living obvious carnal lives, rather He is describing those who are in our churches and think they are saved from the wrath to come. Yet Jesus warns that He doesn’t know them.

So how can you know? Can anyone have assurance of their salvation? Yes, absolutely! God does not leave His children doubting, for “the one who doubts is like the wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6) For instance, the book of 1 John was written primarily so that Christians might have assurance. Throughout his letter, John contrasts those who walk in darkness with those who walk in light, those who say they have no sin with those who confess their sins, those who do not keep God’s commands with those who do. Later he contrasts those who hate their brother with those who love him, those who love the world with those who do not, those who practice sin with those who practice righteousness, those who love with those who do not. Finally, he contrasts those who believe God and those who do not believe, those who have the Son and those who do not.

Which brings me to my main point. Those who believe God and have the Son long for Him. We all long for something. We long for money, or material things like a nice house or car, or we long for relationships like the perfect husband or wife. When we long for such things, we tend to seek Jesus because we believe he is the way to get what we long for. And when we get a taste of what we long for, we can be like the crowd, seeking Jesus because he filled their carnal bellies with the fish and loaves, not because they saw that His miracles confirmed what the prophets said about Him throughout the Old Testament Scriptures. The Bible is clear, there are false converts in our churches. There are those who think they are born again when in fact Jesus does not know them and will righteously condemn them to hell. If we seek Jesus because we long for material things that he can give us, we may be one of those false converts. If we seek to obey his commands and practice religion because we want to earn His favor so that He gives us material blessings, we may in fact be among those that Jesus warns about in the passage from Matthew 7 above. I think there is an important question we should ask ourselves. Are we seeking Jesus because we long for what He can give us, or because we long for Him? The answer to this question can give us an indication as to whether we have the Son or not.

So what does it look like to long for God? The Bible has a lot to say about this. Ask yourself if these things describe you or not:

My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times. (Psalm 119:20)

My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. (Isaiah 26:9)

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. (Psalm 73:25)

My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word. (Psalm 119:81)

I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments. (Psalm 119:131)

I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. (Psalm 143:6)

My prayer is that you come to experience that longing for God is satisfied through Jesus Christ:

13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13, 14)

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. (Isaiah 55:1)

This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:50-51)

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. (John 7:37)

.And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. (Revelation 21:6)

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. (Revelation 22:17)

And that is exactly what He wanted the crowd seeking Him for the wrong reasons to understand:

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. (John 6:27)

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Celebrating Birthdays at Mercy Home - This Week Michelle M., Lucas, and Susan

Michelle in the middle, with Christine (left) and Vennah

Michelle in the middle, with Christine (left) and Vennah

Michelle M is now seven years old. She is a very silly and playful girl. She enjoys playing house and jump rope with the other girls. Michelle attends pre-school at Mercy Christian Academy.

Lucas on the right, along with Zeke (left) and Brian

Lucas on the right, along with Zeke (left) and Brian

Lucas has just turned seven. He is very playful and enjoys playing marbles with the other younger boys. He is funny and very active. He attends kindergarten at Mercy Christian Academy. We thank God for bringing Lucas to us, and his is a story that has affected many. Lucas was living on the streets. Imagine a 6 year-old boy homeless and alone. He became very ill with salmonella from eating food from the trash. Had no one intervened, he likely would have died. Thanks be to God that in His sovereignty, He had other plans for Lucas. Someone found him and was able to get him medical care with the help of a US ministry that knew about us. When Lucas was ready to leave the hospital, he came to Mercy Home to begin a new life. Lucas is now thriving!

Susan with Valentine, ready for school!

Susan with Valentine, ready for school!

Susan on the right, Charity on the left. Photo-bomb courtesy of Moses!

Susan on the right, Charity on the left. Photo-bomb courtesy of Moses!

Susan is now fourteen years old. She is very helpful and almost always has a smile on her face. She enjoys playing with girls of all ages and loves helping with the babies.

Lucas is currently sponsored, but Michelle and Susan are not. If you would like to commit to prayerfully and financially support one of these beautiful girls, please click here for our sponsorship page.

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Mercy Ministries staff

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Mercy Ministries staff

We talk a lot about the kids in our home, the school we opened at the beginning of this year and the children in our village, but we also have 35 adults that we get to work with. 30 of them come from within walking distance of Mercy Ministries. That is 34 families…

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2 boys…

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2 boys…

This picture was taken in March of 2017. Dan and Dan

This picture was taken in March of 2017. Dan and Dan

2 boys...2 lost boys. Both named Dan. Danny Chapia and Dan Kamau. They ran from their home because basic needs were not being met, there wasn't any money for their school fees and there was abuse. Living on the streets sounded better to their young minds than enduring the painful life they lived. They'd seen other boys living on the street and it didn't look so bad compared to what they were living. But they didn't know just how harsh the streets would be to them or how long they would stay there. Being a streetboy seems to be an endless cycle. Often times if the child tries to return home they are rejected or the same old struggles are there so they return to the streets again and again. Most streetboys desire to go to school, yet they are addicted to glue and can't just stop on their own, so school isn't an option without a home to live in. In Kenya streetboys are viewed as trash so not many are willing to open their home or hearts to these boys.

When we met them and I learned some of their story my heart broke. Every child deserves to have a family. I couldn't imagine a child hating their home life so much that they'd rather live on the streets. But, I was new to Kenya and didn't yet realize the harsh side of Kenya. While I'll never fully understand it, I have a better picture of it now. If there is love, food and safety missing from your home you start to question things and see no real reason to stay. Lots of times alcohol abuse is involved and often it is a family issue, so they don't have the option to just go and stay with an aunt or grandma.

This picture was taken in June of 2019 💙💙💙. Danny Chapia and Dan Kamau

This picture was taken in June of 2019 💙💙💙. Danny Chapia and Dan Kamau

2 years has gone by and both of these boys still live at Mercy Home. Many of you will likely say they are blessed to be here, but we are the ones who are blessed. We get to help raise these children in a good way. We get to share the Gospel with them on a regular basis. We get to be the one to meet needs that have previously gone unmet. We get to watch the growth, the emotional and physical growth. We are beyond blessed to get to live life with these boys (and every other child living at Mercy Home). We absolutely have hard days, we have had heartbreaking days, but it is worth it. They are worth every tear that is shed and every pain our hearts feel. They are worth every FB post where I feel like I'm begging for money and they are worth every late night we spend talking and planning for their future.

Please keep these boys in your prayers. They have a lot of potential and can do anything they want to do after high school thanks to a support system like you! Pray that they will lean on Him and live their life for Him because we know that He is where true life is found.

If you'd like to learn more about sponsoring any of our beautiful children here at Mercy Home you can go to the link below. 💜

https://afm.ngo/mercy-home-sponsorship

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Celebrating Birthdays at Mercy Home - This Week: Zeke & Marion

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Celebrating Birthdays at Mercy Home - This Week: Zeke & Marion

As you can imagine with a family the size of our Mercy Home family, rarely a week goes by that we don’t celebrate at least one birthday. Since it is hard for those of you following along from afar to get to know each of the beautiful kiddos of our family the way we do, we thought some of…

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Clubbed feet

Kelly and Ezekiel

Kelly and Ezekiel

Imagine with me for a minute that you are born with 2 clubbed feet. You live in a country where surgery isn't possible or it is unattainable for your family. So you adapt and learn to walk on your clubbed feet and you do pretty well, you can even carry 20 liters of water on your head and you walk most every place you go. As you grow up you are laughed at, unable to play sports and struggle to do normal things. Now imagine being a mom and having a son with the same condition. You've been through this, you know how hard it is emotionally and physically, yet while surgery is possible for your son it is unattainable. Can you imagine the weight you would carry? Please whatever you do don't start with the "I would do whatever it took"...I used to think that too, but this is poverty. This is a poverty that most reading this can't even begin to understand. This isn't a couple of tight months, this isn't needing help to get back on your feet this is consistently living on less than $40 a month and not having anyone to help you. The government isn't swooping in with help, your extended family likely lives on less, there is no help. Poverty didn't even allow this family to ask how much, they were told that surgery "cost a lot of money" so they moved on. 💔 They knew they would never have a lot of money or have access to a lot of money so they just stopped. Now at 3 years old little Kelly hobbles around, but without surgery we all know he'll never run or play football like the other kids.

I'm amazed and heartbroken at the same time. I'm amazed by her resilience, she carries a baby on her back and 20 liters of water on her head like it is no big deal.

I'm amazed and heartbroken at the same time. I'm amazed by her resilience, she carries a baby on her back and 20 liters of water on her head like it is no big deal.

The other little boy (Ezekiel) in the picture has one clubbed foot and while his parents don't also have clubbed feet his situation is very much the same. Lives in poverty and the family never even asked how much surgery was once they were told it was expensive.

But God! God has a different plan for both of these boys. God connected Jeff to another missionary in Kenya awhile back. Ben Gardner works with Dreamland Mission Hospital which is about an hour from us and they preform the surgery these 2 boys need! Today we were able to make arrangements to get them evaluated for surgery and everything went well. We are awaiting on a surgery date, but it should be sometime in September! Dreamland is doing some amazing, life-changing work here in Kenya and it is a blessing to get to work alongside them in what God has called us to do.

As you go throughout your day today praise God for Dreamland, for the way He is connecting people to do His work, that you can't imagine being in this situation and that these 2 boys are getting help. I'm just SO crazy excited for them and for what this means for their life. Oh and praise God for your support because without it we would have never met these 2 precious boys. Kelly (on the left) we met through the jigger treatment clinic y'all sponsored in a nearby village and Ezekiel we met through the feeding program at Mercy Home. 💜💜💜

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Kelly's clubbed feet which his sweet Mama also has.

Kelly's clubbed feet which his sweet Mama also has.

Ezekiel's clubbed foot.

Ezekiel's clubbed foot.

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A perfect storm for this imperfect mama

And today I lost it...mostly in my own head this time, thankfully. I think lots of you have this false idea of me and who I am because Facebook, Instagram posts, and blogs can be deceiving. Sometimes the words "awesome" or "amazing" are used to describe me, but that couldn't be more inaccurate. When walking in the flesh (which I do too often) I tend to deal with anger issues. Maybe that is a learned behavior from my childhood, maybe it is because I don't lean on God enough, maybe that is just part of being human or maybe it is a little of each? I'm not sure, but today I was ready to snap. I could basically feel it from the time I woke up.

If you follow us on FB you are probably aware that we've been sick and by "we" I mean about half of our household which is equal to about 50 people. Headache, body aches, tummy aches, vomiting, chicken pox (yes about 25 of us have chicken pox), malaria, low blood which required hospitalization, dental issues, eye sight issues and a major open heart surgery is still needed. It is kind of A LOT to deal with, process, keep up with, pay for, pray for and, and, and. Today I'm simply overwhelmed and a bit angry.

So today Jeff is sick, who's been sick or feeling unwell for the last week or so and we had an application to return via email for Wayne and the surgery he needs. Easy peasy right? Everyone knows how to email and attach a document or two. Well it wasn't so easy for me. First I couldn't get into Jeff's computer because apparently the password had been changed and I didn't get the memo, so I had to ask one of our children for it. Once I finally I got in the computer and I couldn't figure out how to scan the needed documents. Our printer is a little too simple and so it isn't as easy as it should be. Finally I figured out how to scan the documents but then I couldn't actually see them on the computer because a "language software" was needed even though everything was in English. Downloaded the "language software" and got it installed, but now I can only scan one document at a time and can't combine them into one file, so sorry for the 8 email attachments 🤦🏻‍♀️.

Somewhere in the middle of all that I just snapped! WHY? Why can't this just be easy? I'm not going to lie, sometimes my head goes to a place of "This life is SO hard that (I feel like I deserve) parts of it should just be easy, easy for easy things should be mandated somewhere!" Scanning a few documents and emailing them back should be easy! Finding a place and a Dr to do a very much needed open heart surgery should be easy! Finding medication to ease normal tummy discomfort should be easy, yet I get an antibiotic when I go to the chemist 🤦🏻‍♀️. Chicken noodle soup, which Jeff thinks is a requirement when sick or feeling unwell should be easy, but we don't have canned soup here. Can something's just be easy so it makes the harder things seem easier?

I feel like I deserve...yikes, I hate that! I deserve death because I'm a sinner and fail daily, multiple times a day. I don't deserve for anything to be easy, good, or handed to me. But there I was so frustrated, so angry that I felt like I deserved for parts of my life to be easy because I do hard things daily.

Then later on during the day I'm having to do extra work because I didn't think a form we created all the way through before we put it to work. I'm having to go back and find the dates which certain items were paid, because apparently book keeping is important when you're a missionary. Not hard at all, just time consuming and it could have been avoided so that made it annoying. So I'm writing the date for that receipt 7/27/98...98!? Yeah I'm back in 98...why? Today is Kyle's 21st birthday and holidays and birthdays are hard when you have to leave others behind. It doesn't get any easier, we don't miss family less, we don't long to celebrate birthdays and holidays with them less. Just because I wasn't walking around burdened over missing another birthday didn't mean it wasn't burdening my heart.

Today was a bit of a "perfect storm" for me. I woke up with a heavy heart, but put on a good face while the anger continued to build. I'm missing Kyle, worried about Wayne's heart surgery and how we will pay for that, stressed over 50 (and counting) sick children and a sick husband. While I could totally beat myself up over my anger, I'm a little bit proud that for the most part it all happened inside my head. I didn't fire anyone, I didn't snap at Jeff or the kids. I mainly just threw a mini temper tantrum in my head. I desperately miss the adult children and their lives we left behind.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2‭-‬4 ESV

By the look on her face we are feeling the same, but for very different reasons.

By the look on her face we are feeling the same, but for very different reasons.

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Illness

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Illness

“…he whom you love is ill.” John 11:3

We are dealing with much illness here at Mercy Home, Mercy Christian Academy, and I myself am on the recovering end of yet another bout of malaria. Today I came across this verse above from John 11. What a wonderful reminder! Illness cannot be a sign of God’s displeasure or a sign of a lack of faith, for here we have the example of Lazarus, someone Jesus loved, someone who had faith, and he was sick!

Even beyond that glorious fact, we read in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” If we love God, it is because we are called according to his purpose, and he works ALL things together for our good. Whether healthy or sick, whether rich or poor, whether free or in prison, or whatever situation the Lord may have us in, we can count it all joy (James 1:2).

The main point I want to make does not come from me, but from J.C. Ryle. With regards to John 11:3, he says, “Mark the child-like faith of these holy women. Mark the simple humility of their language about Lazarus. They call him ‘he whom you love.’ They do not say, ‘He who loves you, believes in you, serves you,’ but ‘he whom you love.’ Martha and Mary were deeply taught of God. They had learned that Christ’s love towards us, and not our love towards Christ, is the true ground of expectation, and true foundation of hope.”

As Christians, let us face our afflictions according to God’s grace. Sickness is used for good. Sickness reminds us of death. Sickness causes people to think seriously about God, their souls, and the world to come. Sickness teaches wisdom. Sickness helps to humble us. And sickness can test our faith, and “the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:3-4)

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Baby Wayne's Heart Condition

This is probably the biggest NEED post we've ever posted. We need lots of prayer, shares, support and help/advice.

A few days ago we took almost 1 year old Wayne (Baby Wayne as we call him because we have 2 Waynes) to the hospital because he wasn't feeling well and his fingernails and toenails were purple. He got to the hospital and his stats were all over the place and the Dr on duty said Wayne has some sort of heart issue going on. Once he was "stable" we took him to see a cardiologist about 3 hours from our home. She did an echocardiogram and saw a heart that needs surgery and needs it asap.

Wayne has a LARGE HOLE and TRUNCUS ARTERIOSUS. That is his official diagnosis and all the information we have been given about his condition. He has had this since birth, but it has gone undetected, which the Dr was surprised and a bit confused by. She said he definitely needs surgery and this surgery isn't done in Kenya. She said they usually refer to India for this procedure, but that it can be done in America. We are checking into some other places, but really we are in over our head so to speak because clearly this will take a team of expert specialist to fix.

Specific prayer points

1. We get a clear direction on where surgery is to be done.
2. Getting Wayne out of country would be an easy process, we are already working on paperwork.
3. Surgery steps happen quickly or at the correct speed for Wayne.
4. Any funding/transport/housing needs are met.
5. Wayne's health while waiting for and during surgery would get and remain stable.
6. That the Drs who will be operating on our sweet boy would know exactly what to do for him.
7. Emotions for all of us. Wayne is dearly loved and cared for by many and we will be splitting off to get him the best care possible.

Please share this post and connect Jeff or myself to others, especially Drs who may be of help. Right now this is all kind of overwhelming because there are so many details that need to fall into place. If you are able to give towards Wayne's medical cost I will put the donation link in the comments and you may mark your donation for Wayne.

If you would like to contribute financially to Wayne’s medical care, any amount helps! Please click this link:

https://aboutface.atlas.thrinacia.com/campaign/25/baby-wayne-heart-surgery?fbclid=IwAR0_M0lEL1HzI1laLez5dkGYjVvwwRcZKR0-NCpJfohqnNwZemmwZpIVZ44

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I Am Not Enough

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I Am NOT Enough

by Stephanie Bys, Missionary to Kenya

I am not enough...

Not 6 months ago when I was walking through fires, not 6 weeks ago when we started serving 100's of meals to hungry children, not 4 days ago when my "gut" said "she's sick take her to the hospital" and not today or tomorrow or ever.

I am not enough...that goes completely against what the world tells us, yet for me it feels so safe. It feels so freeing, it feels like a light bulb moment so to speak, but mostly it is just absolutely freeing. There is a freedom in Christ that just can't be explained and while I don't completely get it, I'm learning. Often times I'm learning the hard way, because that's how Stephanie "rolls", but Jesus is so good to keep pulling me back and turning me to Him. Pulling me away from the world and to His Word. Pulling me away from unhealthy patterns and thoughts and back to His ways. Removing unhealthy people, ideas and reasonings and replacing them with His ways and His truth. The kind of freedom that says "ahhhhh" I don't have to carry that pressure to do all and be all because Jesus has this.

Several weeks ago I was scrolling through Facebook during some downtime and I saw a t-shirt and it said "I am not enough". I had to read it a couple of times to get it, thinking maybe I was missing part of it or something. Once I realized it actually said "I am not enough" it was extremely profound and that phase has been swirling around in my head since. Keeping me somewhat perplexed, yet not.

Missions is a crazy thing...it is beautifully messy, unbelievably emotional, pure joy, heartbreaking, incredibly moving, stressful, a huge blessing, full of growth and has a seemingly endless list of needs. It will stretch you thin, challenge your thoughts and fill you with love. But the truth is most days you go to bed with so much left undone. Missions changes you, challenges you and can make you feel weak. You can quickly start to feel the pressure of the many needs and feel that it is YOUR job to make sure those needs get met. I mean I know it isn't MY job to meet the needs, but I'm the common link so it sometimes feels like if I don't word/communicate/share in the right way then I will keep those needs from being met.

But I'm learning to live in what I already knew. I am not enough and I don't have to carry that pressure because Jesus, He is enough. It isn't about me, but Him. When people pat me on the back I often think "if you only knew...". I am not enough, not enough to move to Kenya, not enough to stay in Kenya, not enough in my marriage, not enough to live out James 1:27, not enough to feed the hungry, not enough to run a truly Christian school, not enough to do any of the things that we do on a daily basis here. It is all because of Jesus and His enoughness!

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

#iamnotenough #jesusisenough #missionarylife #blessed#aboutfacemissions #mercychristianacademy #mercychildrenshome


Learn more about Jeff and Stephanie and the work God is doing in Kenya.

Follow along on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MercyHomeKenya/

Watch the Mercy Home Story below.

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"Oh Sunday, Sunday" - Note from Stephanie and Other Updates

Just in case you have missed some of the newest happenings in the “Bys-Kenya-Camp”, you can see some of the latest information below.

“Oh Sunday, Sunday”

by Stephanie Bys

Sunday, Sunday where do I start? Let me go back to Friday so I can explain Sunday better. Friday evening I posted about wanting to do a feeding program for the children in our village due to the drought. I wasn't and am still not sure what this will actually cost, but I knew that to get going we needed about $450 in cooking pots alone. So I made a post and through many people God provided. By Saturday evening it was clear to me that we had the funds to begin a feeding program so we decided to start Monday morning. I was excited and nervous and excited. Sunday rolled around and I had the idea that we should just announce the feeding program to our church. I told Jeff and he agreed.

Right as church was starting I realized that I could (and should) announce this exciting new program myself. If you know me you know I HATE being the center of attention and public speaking. Being a missionary brings lots of attention, wanted or not. So I text Jeff and tell him that I will announce it to the church. I'm sure he about fell out of his chair when he read that. During announcements I announced 😃 and didn't forget what I wanted to say and I didn't feel super stupid so that was great. Our church was so excited and probably shocked to see me there in front speaking. But I realized something, talking about God and what he has made possible was so easy! Suddenly I didn't worry about the 200+ sets of eyes looking at me. 💜

Later Sunday evening our sending church wanted to know if we could do a video chat real quick. We were available although I'm not sure our "WiFi" was 😂🤣😂. During our quick video chat they shared with us that they wanted to finish the 5 classrooms, teacher's office and build the KITCHEN (for the home and school) for Mercy Christian Academy 😲. I was and still am completely blown away by this. I'm so excited thinking about all the sweet children that will sit and learn in these classes. I'm excited thinking about children learning in a loving environment and I'm excited to see these children grow to know Jesus. 💜

This partnership with Revival Church has been such a blessing to Jeff and I personally. Being a missionary can be lonely sometimes. We found ourselves "floating in our own bubble" feeling somewhat forgotten and alone sometimes. Then Revival Church stepped in and now we feel like we have some "holding our rope". God has really blessed us with this partnership and now many children will be blessed for years and years to come.

At the end of May we have 6 visitors coming that are connected to Revival Church and we can't wait to share all that is going on here with them. 💜💜💜 If you made it this far, thanks for hanging in there! Thanks for following along, praying and supporting us. It is a blessing to get to be here and love on others. It isn't always easy, but it is always a blessing.

#aboutfacemissions #changingtheirstory #drought #feedingthevillage#james127 #kenya #missions #orphansandwidows #mercychristianacademy#educationiskey #revivalchurchfallcreek #Godprovides

(Picture of our sunset last night 😍)

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Day Three of the Feeding Program

by Stephanie Bys

Three hundred and thirty-three meals served to our village children today! At breakfast we served about 60 liters of porridge and 161 peanut butter sandwiches. Before lunch was ready I went into the kitchen and noticed that our giant new pots were FULL of rice and beans (for both the home and village). We actually ran out of food for lunch today and had some children come in late, but no one walked away without food! 💜

We are all about food here and we go through a lot of it. Just to give you an idea we served around 690 meals today between our home and village. 😲That is a lot of food! Thank you for helping us keep up with rising food cost and feed others. Our feeding program is growing daily and it is a huge blessing to our village. AFM has been helping do work in this village for about 9 years now, but this is the most widespread help we've been able to offer. While the drought isn't good it has been a huge blessing to us because we have learned new ways to help others.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve our village in this way.

#mercychildrenshome #drought #feedingthevillage #kenya #james127#riceandbeans #love #thankyou


Resurrection Sunday Worship

Neema Baptist Church, Kenya

Nothing but the Blood of Jesus! Worship service from Neema Baptist Church, Bungoma, Kenya - Resurrection Sunday!

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Neema Christian Academy - Thoughts & Updates from Stephanie Bys

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Neema Christian Academy - Thoughts & Updates from Stephanie Bys

Start a school they said, it will be great they said! And it is great, but it is SO much work, I feel like I'm treading water daily. Buying needed supplies daily, telling teachers "that will have to wait" daily.Having this school is such a blessing to me personally. As a Mama…

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McKinney Christian Academy blesses our Neema Christian Academy!

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McKinney Christian Academy blesses our Neema Christian Academy!

Thank you Kristin Urban and McKinney Christian Academy for such an amazing donation of about 400 pounds of various children school uniforms!

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Great new partnership with Revival Church!

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Great new partnership with Revival Church!

A new covenant of ministry partnership with AFM, Bys Family and Revival Church, Fall Creek WI . Hallelujah, the Lord is good!

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NEEMA CHRISTIAN ACADEMY is Happening!

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NEEMA CHRISTIAN ACADEMY is Happening!

Launching a new school for the impoverished children in Kenya! Come and see, and be a part of what God is calling us all to do today!

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Neema School Announcement and need!

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Neema School Announcement and need!

Launching a new school for the impoverished children in Kenya! Come and see, and be a part of what God is calling us all to do today!

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